HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Indiana Pacers have muscled their way into a top three spot in the Eastern Conference standings this season mostly without Danny Granger healthy and in the lineup.
They’ll have to finish the season without him, too. The Pacers announced this afternoon that the eight-year veteran will have knee surgery and miss the remainder of this season, leaving the Central Division upstarts without a key member of their team for the playoffs.
Sure, the Pacers have managed just fine without him. They have a commanding lead over Chicago in the division race and sport a 45-27 record heading into tonight’s game against the Mavericks in Dallas.
Not having Granger available for the playoffs means the Pacers will have to rely on All-Star swingman Paul George and Lance Stephenson to hold down the responsibility on the perimeter. Both are talents, George has clearly established himself as one of the better young swingmen in the league, but lack the experience Granger brought to the Pacers on and off the floor.
The Pacer have strong leadership in David West and to a larger extent head coach Frank Vogel, who had to be caught off guard by today’s developments since he spoke with reporters yesterday about the possibility of Granger playing against the Mavericks.
Granger played in just five games this season, averaging just 5.4 points. He had a procedure for patellar tendinosis in October and came back Feb. 25, but had complications and was sidelined again with pain associated with his left knee.
The Pacers are battling New York for the No. 2 spot behind Miami in the Eastern Conference standings, but will have to do so without a former All-Star (2009) whose career scoring average is 18.1 points. He’d have been a valuable addition for the playoffs, giving the Pacers two elite-level perimeter players (along with George) to challenge the likes of the Heat and Knicks, if those matchups were to materialize.